After a year-long fight with Revenue Canada, Barrie resident Brad Stewart finally has a resolution.
Stewart's case was reported on by BarrieToday late last week.
Last spring, the 37-year-old wounded veteran received a $2,000 cheque from the federal government as part of its Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) — money he said he neither wanted nor qualified for.
He attempted to send the cheque back three times with a letter explaining the situation, but said the agency kept returning it. A fourth attempt to explain the situation over the phone resulted in an agent telling Stewart to not cash the cheque and promising he would in no way be taxed on the funds. He was, and has spent the last year trying to get his money back.
“It was important to me to return the (cheque) because if I didn't it would have been theft and I am no thief,” he said. “It's Canadian taxpayer dollars that are being spent completely irresponsibly.”
On Monday, Stewart was informed that he would finally be getting the $650 that had been taken off his annual taxes returned. While he's happy with the news, Stewart told BarrieToday he's disappointed the government would let it go this far to begin with.
He says he has been told they are giving it back to him on April 22.
"We will see if that actually happens,” Stewart said, adding he feels the whole situation was “absolutely unprofessional."
Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MP Doug Shipley, whose office assisted Stewart — and is also trying to help others who’ve found themselves in a similar situation — says he was happy that he and his staff could help in some way.
“It wasn’t just our own ability, but we definitely pushed a bit of the uphill battle and helped him get his money back,” the MP said. “(April 22) is a lot sooner than next year, which is when they wanted to do it.”
Stewart said his advice for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation is to make sure to advocate for yourself.
“(Don’t) let the government walk all over you. We in Canada have become so complacent. People need to stand up to our government and hold them accountable for their mistakes.”